Michigan Jobs 322,000 Under Pre-Pandemic Level

Detroit skyline at night
by Scott McClallen


Sixteen months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, Michigan is still behind 322,000 jobs compared to pre-pandemic in Feb. 2020.

Michigan’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate of 5% percent was unchanged in June, according to data released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

“Michigan’s labor market indicators were little changed in June,” Wayne Rourke, the associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said in a statement. “The Michigan unemployment rate has been near 5.0 percent for five consecutive months. Payroll job counts in June were similar to March levels.”

The national jobless rate edged up by a tenth of a percentage point in June to 5.9%. Michigan’s June unemployment rate was 0.9 percentage points below the U.S. rate.

However, businesses across the state have been limiting hours and services because they can’t find enough workers.

Some point to boosted $300/week federal unemployment benefits as one reason people aren’t returning to work. An Axios report said nationwide, 1.8 million people have turned down jobs, citing generous unemployment benefits.

For months, Republicans have called on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to cut benefits, following 26 other states. The first-term Democrat has refused, saying people still need the help. Michigan has paid $37 billion in unemployment benefits to 3.35 million people since March 15, 2020

Michigan’s workforce rose for the second consecutive month in June, advancing by 19,000 since April 2021.

Unemployment in Michigan fell by 66.2% over the year, while the U.S. unemployment level declined by 46.4% since June 2020.

Despite improvements in labor market conditions, Michigan’s labor force hasn’t recovered.

The June 2021 jobless rate of 5% was 1.3 percentage points above the February 2020 level.

The leisure and hospitality sector registered the highest percentage job rebound in Michigan since June 2020 (+22.1%); however, it’s still 93,000 below pre-pandemic levels.

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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.

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